I spent the first two days of this month in Denver with my best friend. It was her birthday and she said all she wanted was to have a good birthday and that meant having me there. Which, okay. 100% down.
Like me, she also enjoys board games so while we were supposed to be “wasting time” before seeing a show, we went to a bar, STEM, and met with some of her friends. And we played a game of monopoly. My friend and all of her friends are lawyers. I, obviously, am not. I somehow convinced them to let me play Monopoly Rachel-style which means lots of bargaining, negotiations, and contracts. Since they were all lawyers, they were down and were pretty confused why I would be into it. Since supposedly this is what they do for a living.
As we played, I started questioning myself again. Because not only was I good at it, I was great it. I went from being in jail three times to literally bankrupting the bank. And I did all of this while I was little high. So only like 40% capacity of my brain.
On the plane ride home the next night, I started thinking again: Should I have gone to law school? It’s a question I think about all the time. Well-meaning people tell me “Don’t go” or “You won’t find a job unless you get into Tier 1 or 2.” So, excuse my arrogance for a second. There is no world in which I don’t get into a Tier 1 school. Even though I’m not a good test-taker, my not good was still above average for the SATs so I’m not *that* worried about the LSATs. I had a 4.0 in grad school and I feel like I slept through grad school. I took classes out of my department as an attempt to make it harder. The only reason my GPA was trash at Notre Dame is because I literally didn’t go to class freshman and sophomore year. If you only count junior and senior year (when I actually tried), I would’ve had a 3.8. Maybe it’s arrogance but I’m not that concerned about not getting into a good school.
Pretty much anyone who knows me really well wonders why I’m not in law school. I’m obsessed with politics. I read constitutional law books for fun. I enjoy arguing and debating if it’s structured and I know how to weaponize empathy (not proud of that last bit).
And another major part of it? I’m somehow the fuck up when it comes to me and my friends from undergrad. I’m the *only* one who isn’t either finishing up a PhD or making $80k+ right now. The fact that I’m struggling to make $30k/a year is a literally life draining.
So anyway, all that to say, as much fun as I had in Denver, leaving Denver triggered a massive depressive episode that I still haven’t recovered from. While my friends are working these really great jobs and literally seeing the world, I’m a fancy theatre maid. It’s my job to do dishes and serve food to people who complain about literally everything.
Oh. Also I’m a playwright. I think. I was at least. 2018 was great. 2019 looks…empty. I have a commission that I am incredibly thankful for and excited about. And I don’t mean to make that not seem like enough. It’s amazing. And I’m so thankful. But it’s also the only thing I have. I received three huge rejections between Dec 1 and now. I’ve hit a heavy writer’s block.
It’s tempting in times like these to either (1) cry and give up or (2) radically change my life (again) and decide to once and for all go to law school. A family member recently said to me “Okay, Rachel. You did it. You had a good playwriting year. Can you give this up now? I’m worried about your future. Please. Go to law school. You can still be a playwright if you’re a lawyer.”
And I’m sure I’ll always keep coming back to that. I’m sure that I will always idealize law school. But I also have to believe I can do extraordinary things. Even if no one else believes it. Even if there’s evidence to point to the contrary. I have to believe that I will continue to do the impossible.
So instead of lamenting all the
Goal #1: Expand my network
I want to find a way to network with Kitchen Dog Theatre (Dallas), Steep Theatre (Chicago), and Manhattan Theatre Club. I have 0 connection to these three companies but all three have read at least one of my plays. Even if it’s not a reading or production, I’d like a stronger network with these companies.
Goal #2: Challenge my “habits”
I want to write a play that’s completely outside of my usual habits. What I do, I do well. But I want to make sure I don’t get stuck in a formula. I want to keep challenging myself to write different kinds of plays and to push the theatricality of my work.
Goal #3: Support new playwrights
I want to read 24 new plays in 2019. I originally wanted to say 100 but that’s not realistic with my work schedule. Two plays/month is. And I want to make sure to continue to support new playwrights because we’re in this together and some of the best experiences I have from 2018 are discovering and meeting new playwrights. I also want to fully produce a new play in 2019 that’s not mine. It’s important to me to not only lift myself up but to lift others up as well.
Life isn’t what I thought it’d be. But I have to find a way to stay focused. And take my own advice. Some years are great and some years are climbing uphill.
I need the exercise anyway.